Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

The current leader of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a well-polished man named King Abdullah II, who has reigned since the passing of his father in 1999. In recent years, he has aggressively sought to claim “special” rights in the holy sites of Jerusalem, well beyond his reach.

King Abdullah II of Jordan

In May 2017, King Abdullah II addressed the United States President Donald Trump and said:

“the Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian Holy Sites is an unbreakable, historical responsibility and an honour to undertake on behalf of the Arab and Muslim nations.”

There were several problems with his claim:

  • Jordan has no custodianship over Christian sites
  • Jordan does not have exclusive custodianship
  • Jordan’s actions underscore that it is not “responsible” as it’s words are very “breakable”
  • Jordan’s basis for custodianship relates to its funds and efforts regarding improvements to the site, which Israel has in abundance regarding the Old City of Jerusalem, (which Jordan opts to ignore)
  • Jordan negotiated those custodian rights with Israel, yet has undermined Israel’s authority in Jerusalem

Here are some details.

Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem

In July 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement. Within that treaty was language that related to Jordan’s role at Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem (Article 9.2):

“In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”

There was no mention of any Christian sites.

Jordan’s Non-Exclusive Role

The Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty gave Jordan special rights for: 1) Muslim holy sites for 2) Arab and Muslim Nations. However, the treaty gave Jordan nothing as it related to 1) Jewish holy sites, for 2) the rest of the non-Arab and non-Muslim world.

While the al Aqsa Mosque that sits at the southern tip of the Temple Mount is an exclusively Islamic site, the rest of the Temple Mount – including the location of the Dome of the Rock – are Jewish holy sites. Jordan has no special rights over such Jewish holy sites and nor any authority over non-Arab and non-Muslim visitors.

Jordan’s Abrogation of Key Components of the Israel Peace Treaty

Jordan has violated the underlying spirit of the peace treaty with Israel in various manners. In August 2017 the Jordanian Foreign Minister and the Waqf were critical of the 1,000 Jews that went onto the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av saying “This is unprecedented, unacceptable and should stop.” But they have no rights to prohibit any Jew from ascending to the Temple Mount. Article 9.1 of the treaty underscored the point:

“Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.”

Additionally, King Abdullah’s July 2017 statement that Israel was trying to “Judaize” Judaism’s holiest space was an abrogation of Article 9.3 of the peace treaty which stated:

“The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.”

Jordan’s statements and actions were in direct violation of every sentiment of the peace treaty executed by his father and the Jewish State, as he sought to undermine Jewish history and rights on the Temple Mount.

The Deceit of the Jordanians and Palestinians

On March 31, 2013, King Abdullah II signed a treaty with the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas about Jordan’s role regarding the holy sites in Jerusalem. In that treaty, the parties asserted that the entirety of the Temple Mount was exclusively an Islamic site, and had no ties to other religions:

“Recalling the unique religious importance, to all Muslims, of Al Masjid Al Aqsa with its 144 dunums [the land size of the Temple Mount], which include the Qibli Mosque of Al Aqsa, the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock and all its mosques, buildings, walls, courtyards, attached areas over and beneath the ground and the Waqf properties tied-up to Al Masjid Al Aqsa, to its environs or to its pilgrims (hereinafter referred to as “Al Haram Al Sharif”);”

How do either the Jordanians or Palestinians believe that they are promoting “religious understanding, … tolerance and peace,” when they publicly step on Jewish history and faith?

It is also interesting to note that the Jordanian agreement with the PA also never discussed any Jordanian role with Christian holy sites.

“Historical responsibility” of Jordan and Israel

To this day, Jordan continues to state that the very presence of Israel in Jerusalem is a threat to Arabs and Muslim holy sites, and refuses to acknowledge that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount have been anchored in Jewish history for over 3000 years.

Consider language on King Abdullah’s website called  “Custodianship over Holy Sites.

“The Hashemites have stood up against Zionist claims to Jerusalem, which pose a direct threat to the Arab city and its cultural heritage.”

How does Abdullah make such a statement while also acknowledging Israel’s role in Jerusalem in its peace treaty? Is Jordan’s treaty with Israel only based on Israel’s de facto existence and presence in Jerusalem? If Jordan believes that Israel has no role or place in Jerusalem, why have sections in the peace treaty specifically discussing Jerusalem?

The website goes on to discuss the long history of Jordan in fixing up various parts of Jerusalem, including Christian and Muslim holy sites:

“His Majesty’s attention was not limited to Islamic holy sites; he personally helped put out a fire that nearly destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 1949. All throughout his reign (1921-1951), King Abdullah I was the guardian and custodian of Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.”

The “investments” made by Jordan in the Old City of Jerusalem, pale in comparison to the investments made by the government of Israel since it reunited the city in June 1967. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in city improvements. By such measure alone, Israel’s rights throughout the city trumps any claim by Jordanians or Palestinians.

Whose “Illegal Occupation”

In July 2017, Jordan was effective in pushing forward a UNESCO decision that condemned Israel’s excavations in the Old City such as the City of David, and recommitted to the claim that Jerusalem’s Old City walls were in “danger.” The Jordanian embassy added that “The resolution stated that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem, and in particular, the “basic law” on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith…. He also said that the decision, which Jordan presented jointly with Palestine through the Arab group at the committee, emphasised that all Israeli procedures and violations in East Jerusalem are null and void under the international law.”

It is a strange hypocrisy that Jordan claims that Israel’s annexation and role in the Old City of Jerusalem is illegal and not recognized by the international community, when Jordan’s annexation of the eastern half of Jerusalem and the “West Bank” in 1950 was itself not recognized by any country (other than itself, the UK and Pakistan).


The King of Jordan claims that his country has a special role in the Old City of Jerusalem and that he advances peace even though:

  • Jordan’s “special role” does nothing to undermine the rights of Jews at its holiest site
  • Jordan’s investment in Jerusalem pales next to Israel’s investment
  • Jordan’s annexation of the Old City of Jerusalem was less legal than Israel’s annexation of the eastern part of the city in1980

The King of Jordan is eloquent but deceitful. He shrouds himself in words of peace as he stirs up a religious war at Judaism’s holy site.

Abdullah has begged both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for some special status in the Jerusalem’s Old City, and each party has agreed to give him some role as a neutered and neutral party. But as Abdullah stretches the meaning of his role and undermines the essence of the peace treaty, it is time for Israel to reconsider Jordan’s role and reassert the Jewish State’s rights and responsibilities at Judaism’s holiest spot.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Time for King Abdullah of Jordan to Denounce the Mourabitoun

Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem

Visitor Rights on the Temple Mount

The Waqf and the Temple Mount

The UN’s #Alternative Facts about the 1967 Six Day War

750 Years of Continuous Jewish Jerusalem

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

 

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Names and Narrative: CNN’s Temple Mount/ Al Aqsa Complex Inversion

temple mount protest
(Muslim and Israeli police confront each other at The Temple Mount,
September 13, 2015. Source: AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

On September 13, 2015, CNN reported on a confrontation between “Arab youths and Israeli police” in the Old City of Jerusalem using language that inverted the facts. The news discussed:

  • Palestinian protestors,” but of what? Jews visiting the Temple Mount which they had every legal and moral right to do? Perhaps they were protesting new Israeli laws meant to keep Muslim groups from attacking Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount. The report made it appear that the “protestors” were just seeking a right to pray.
  • The “Al Aqsa Complex” that CNN mentioned gives an Islamic name to the entire 35 acre compound, even though the Al Aqsa Mosque is located on just the southern tip of the platform. This entire platform was built for the Second Jewish Temple and is therefore historically known as the Temple Mount. Using an Islamic name as the official name and only stating that “Jews… call it the Temple Mount” divorces history, reality and Jews from the site. It is more accurate to use the default name “The Temple Mount” to the entire location and state that ‘Muslims call it the Al Aqsa Complex”.
  • “…Is one of the holiest sites in the world for Muslims” The mosque itself is the third holiest site, not the entire Temple Mount platform. The story does not clarify that Jews had no interest in visiting the mosque itself, but the other parts of the platform.
  • Stating that “the clashes ended when Muslim worshippers were allowed in the complex for prayers” makes the entire event seem like all the Arab protestors sought was a right to pray (which they had already completed doing), as oppose to stopping Jews from visiting the Temple Mount on their Jewish New Year. This was another inversion of the narrative.
  • CNN’s report that “Jordan, which is in charge of the complex” is incomplete. Jordan’s Islamic Waqf has religious oversight of the Temple Mount, but it is Israel that is in charge of security on the Mount. Article 9 of the 1994 Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty clearly states that “Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.” That is why the Israeli police legally deployed personnel to prevent Arab rock-throwers from attacking visiting Jews on the Mount.

Overall, CNN failed to report that Israel was legally trying to protect Jews visiting the Temple Mount, their holiest spot on one of their holiest days of the year. Instead they painted a picture of Israeli police blocking Arab youths from praying at the Al Aqsa Complex, one of their holiest places.

DSC00357
Al Aqsa Mosque at the very southern tip of the Temple Mount Platform
(Source: First One Through)


Related First One Through articles:

The Waqf and the Temple Mount

The Cave of the Patriarchs and the Temple Mount

The Arguments over Jerusalem

Tolerance at the Temple Mount

“Extremist” or “Courageous”

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

The Waqf and the Temple Mount

Summary: According to Muslims, the Temple Mount is held in “trusteeship” by the Islamic Waqf, which assures its use and access as a mosque. The role of the Waqf has nothing to do with sovereignty of the land on which it resides.

The most sensitive issue of the Israel-Arab conflict is considered to be the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

TEMPLE MOUNT

The Temple Mount is a 35 acre platform that held the second Jewish Temple from around 515CE to 70CE. Herod extended the platform on which the Temple sat southward to enable the greater flow of the thousands of Jews that came to the Temple to perform their rituals. The platform extension project ran from 19BCE to 63CE and Jews enjoyed the benefit of his work until the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70CE.

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The Old City of Jerusalem, including Jewish Quarter and Temple Mount

The area is considered sacred to Muslims as they believe Mohammed had a night journey from Saudi Arabia on a flying horse to that location before ascending to heaven. When Arabs invaded Jerusalem in 627CE, they built the al Aqsa Mosque on the southern edge of Temple Mount (completed in 705CE and rebuilt in 1033) to commemorate the importance of the location. The other structures on the Temple Mount include the Dome of the Rock, the Dome of the Chain, the Dome of the Prophet and various other structures which are NOT mosques, but shrines.

Jews had access and were able to pray on the Temple Mount until around the year 1550, when Suleiman I began a series of “improvements” to Jerusalem. He ordered the rebuilding of the city walls and moved the Jews off of the mount to an area now referred to as the “Kotel” or “Wailing Wall” or “Western Wall”, a sliver of the western retaining wall built by Herod. Since that time, prayer on the Mount has been restricted only for Muslim use.

MODERN HISTORY

Five Arab armies attacked Israel at its founding in 1948. At the end of the war in 1949, Jerusalem became divided with the western half (almost all completely established since the 1850s) under Israeli sovereignty, and the eastern half (including the Old City dating back 4000 years) under Jordanian sovereignty (which was not recognized by the United Nations). The Jordanians evicted all of the Jews and barred their reentry, even to visit their holy sites, counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In 1967, the Jordanians again attacked Israel. They lost the eastern half of Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria, which they had annexed in 1950. Israel reunified the city and made clear that people of all religions – not just Jews – would have access and rights to their holy places.  Non-Muslims were once again allowed onto the platform, and Israel gave administrative oversight of the Temple Mount compound to the Jordanian Waqf. Israel annexed the area and the rest of eastern Jerusalem in a move not recognized globally.

In 1988, Jordan gave up all claims to lands it lost to Israel in the 1967 war, and signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. In that peace agreement, several key clauses were added to address Jerusalem, Article 9:

  • Each Party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.
  • In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.
  • The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.

10383720_10153336970463706_7100356438545362102_o
Jews Praying at the Kotel, 2015

WAQF

Islam allows Muslims to place property (land or any object) into a “Waqf”. By doing so, the item comes under the trusteeship of the party specified in the declaration. In the case of the al Aqsa Mosque, the building is considered to be for the public use of all Muslims under the administration of the Jordanian Waqf.

When the al Aqsa mosque was taken over by Crusaders in the 12th century, the place did not lose its special status for Muslims. As stated in Issue 2697: ““If the Waqfed property is ruined, its position as Waqf is not affected, except when the Waqf is of a special nature, and that special feature ceases to exist. For example, if a person endows a garden and the garden is ruined, the Waqf becomes void and the garden reverts to the heirs of the person.”

Properties or entities like the Old City of Jerusalem or the Temple Mount itself can be subdivided according to Islam. As written in Issue 2698: “If one part of a property has been waqfed and the other part is not, and the property is undivided, the Mujtahid, or the trustee of the Waqf, or the beneficiaries can divide the property and separate the Waqf part in consultation with the experts.”

As described above, the Jordanian Waqf took control of the Temple Mount in 1949 and Israel has continued to let the Waqf administer the site. The Jordanian Waqf now employs 500 people to run the mosque. It does this, while Israel maintains all security controls and runs it as part and parcel of Israel.

It would appear that the actions of 1967, 1988 and 1994 laid the groundwork for a sharing of the Temple Mount between Jews and Muslims again. However, it has continued to be a struggle.

 POLITICS and PROPAGANDA

Over the last few years, the Waqf has become more politicized, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, as it was decades ago. Public statements from the Waqf:

  • Deny Jewish history at the Temple Mount
  • Attempt to deny Jewish rights of access
  • Deny Jewish rights to prayer (agreed to by the Israeli government)
  • Deny sovereignty of the Jewish State and Jerusalem municipality (agreed by many countries in the United Nations)

Consider a recent discovery of ancient Judaica near the Temple Mount. The Waqf issued a statement that the findings were “an attempt to support Israeli claims about Jewish rights in the holy city and to impose Israeli sovereignty on the occupied holy compound through the use of fake evidence….An immediate Arab and Muslim campaign is needed to stop the Israeli attempts to Judaise the holy city of Jerusalem,”

temple mt find
Discovery of Jewish artifacts at base of Temple Mount
dating to period before creation of Islam

It is interesting that the Waqf would make a claim of “Judaising” the city of Jerusalem which has had a Jewish majority for 150 years. It was also this same Jordanian Waqf that participated in expelling Jews from the Old City of Jerusalem and barring their entry from 1949-1967.

PEACE ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT

Israel’s perspective: Israel has sought a peaceful situation on the Temple Mount from the very beginning of reunifying Jerusalem. In 1967, Moshe Dayan announced: “To our Arab neighbors we extend, especially at this hour, the hand of peace. To members of the other religions, Christians and Muslims, I hereby promise faithfully that their full freedom and all their religious rights will be preserved. We did not come to Jerusalem to conquer the Holy Places of others.”

The declaration was followed by the establishment of the Protection of Holy Places Law which ensured the rights of all religions to pray at their holy sites.

Today, in an effort to appease the extremist views of the Waqf, radical Palestinians and the Jordanian government itself which threated to break its peace treaty with Israel, the Israeli government has continued to enforce a ban on Jewish prayer on the Mount.

Muslims’ Perspective: Suleiman pushed the Jews off of the Temple Mount in 1550 and Jordanian Arabs expelled the Jews from the entire Old City in 1949. Muslims and Arabs would clearly prefer that there be no Jews in Jerusalem.

However, according to Islam, there is no conflict with the Temple Mount being completely under Israeli sovereignty as detailed above.

According to the Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan, the Temple Mount (outside of al Aqsa Mosque) should permit non-Mulsim prayer, despite Jordan’s recent protests.

Israel has continued to extend its full hand to share the Temple Mount.  Meanwhile, the Arab world took initial steps some decades ago to recognize Jewish history and rights which do not conflict with Islamic law.  Regrettably, recent history has witnessed a more hostile Arab approach.

Perhaps the future will witness peace on the Temple Mount with full access and rights for Jews at their holiest location.



Sources:

Waqf rules: http://www.al-islam.org/islamic-laws-ayatullah-ali-al-husayni-al-sistani/rules-regarding-waqf

Noble Sanctuary: http://www.noblesanctuary.com/AQSAMosque.html

Palestinian women fight Jews on Temple Mount: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/world/middleeast/palestinian-women-join-effort-to-keep-jews-from-contested-holy-site.html

Related First One Through articles:

Tolerance at the Temple Mount

Sharing the Temple Mount like the Cave of Patriarchs

Five holy sites in the holy land

Palestinians are “desperate”… but for what?

Palestinian Arabs control of Jerusalem for 0.5% of its history 

Divided Cities and Capitals